Flexible Office Space in 2021 and Beyond

Flexible Office Space in 2021 and Beyond

The world has looked significantly different over the past two years, not just at home but in our offices. The way we look and understand our work environments may change in the coming years. Short term, this means companies may be revisiting their policies and investments in real estate. Long term, it may give way to a completely new model that supports both remote work and in-office lifestyles.

In this post, we’ll explore what the future of real estate and coworking trends look like this year and in the coming years.


Flexible Office Spaces


Though it’s easy to think the pandemic has put a halt in the growth of coworking, the opposite is true. More companies are signing up for flexible workspaces and flexible leases than ever before. According to one survey of major companies, 86% expect to use flex space as part of their strategies moving forward, up 73% from a year prior.

If you’re not familiar with the flexible office space, think of it as any office that encourages freedom and customizability— either in the cost structure, in the environment, or in community collaboration. This might include a hybrid office model (such as a shared office space used by both remote workers and in-office workers), and coworking spaces. It may also include offices with flexible leasing agreements, allowing companies to rent monthly or on an as-needed basis.

As the vaccine is rolled out across the country, companies will begin to revisit their offices and take stock of the essentials. For larger companies, they may decide that they are overspending on giant office buildings where only half their team can access it at any given time. For startups, a more relaxed lease agreement may be necessary for their survival.


Benefits of Flexible Office Spaces


Flexible agreements – Although the world is gradually returning to normal, the uncertainty lingering from the previous year will make some businesses more cautious about undertaking long-term lease agreements. Flex offices will be in high demand as companies test the waters of sending their workforce back to the workplace.

Change of pace – Remote workers stuck at home will most likely feel fatigued from all the Zoom meetings and working from home. Flex office spaces will provide a welcome change of scenery.

The sense of community – True networking has to happen in person. Whether it’s your next partner, employee, or client, you may just find the right person in a flex office space.


Hybrid Office Space


During the pandemic, many employers saw the need to have a majority of their workforce work remotely. From Facebook to Twitter, companies saw the value in updating their work policies to accommodate both in-person work and remote work. This led to an increase in searches for hybrid offices.

The hybrid office space isn’t a new concept, it combines the benefits of the existing open office space model and private offices model. It even features many traditional office amenities, such as printing and fax machines, conference rooms, and so on.

Rather, the biggest pull with a hybrid office is the option: do you want to work from home or in the office? Allowing your workers to choose can create a greater sense of autonomy and freedom. Expect to see more companies updating their policies to cater to both remote and in-office workers.


Benefits of Hybrid Office Space


More freedom – Instead of being forced to work in the office or stuck working remotely, a hybrid setup caters to both worlds. Pop in for a quick meeting or client consultation, then finish the rest of your work abroad or at home. That level of freedom is hard to come by in more traditional setups.

Affordability – Hybrid offices tend to be far more affordable than traditional office spaces. When not in use, space can be shared or rented out to another client, keeping your overhead at a minimum.

Collaborative opportunities – When remote workers and office workers have a common space to work together, creativity and collaboration naturally arise. It simply isn’t the same when attempted over a virtual conference call.


Companies Moving to Coworking Office Space


Even before the pandemic, large corporations were adopting the coworking model in droves. Some of Novel Coworking’s enterprise clients include Grainger, Monster, Mozilla, Aflac, State Farm, and Accenture.

These companies and many others realize that coworking provides their brand with more real estate at a fraction of the cost. According to one figure, coworking spaces can save companies 20-40% in costs compared to traditional offices. Combined with the hybrid office model, companies can allow their employees to work remotely and come into a satellite office on an as-needed basis.

Besides the cost-effectiveness, other coworking space benefits for big companies include greater access to entrepreneurial communities within major cities. Although San Francisco is known for its tech scene, cities like Kansas City, Charlotte, and Seattle are quickly developing reputations as entrepreneurial hotbeds. The potential partnerships and inspiration gained from working around startups are immeasurable.


Benefits of Coworking


Budget-friendly – Coworking is a lot cheaper compared to the cost of any other office because the cost is split between all coworking members. This is perfect for solopreneurs, startups, or satellite offices.

Networking – Without any walls or barriers, you can meet other professionals within the space more easily. The entrepreneurial community is something that cannot be seen in a cubicle-type setting.

Amenity-rich – Coworking members get access to incredible perks, from unlimited coffee to printing and faxing services. These would be far more expensive if paid for separately.



Staying Connected with Remote and Distributed Teams


These days, it’s not uncommon for businesses to have team members scattered around the city or even the world. The modern company is increasingly becoming distributed. It helps to have a single hub or location to meet up or remotely manage your team.

Nothing beats communicating in person. That’s why businesses are starting to rent out hybrid offices or coworking spaces in major cities, where international workers can access easily from the airport, and where local workers can commute using the rail or bus system.


Benefits of Remote Work


Flexibility – Remote workers enjoy greater flexibility when it comes to where and when they choose to work.

Cost-effective – With hybrid offices and coworking spaces, you can use your office only when you need it. Instead of paying for a large office space or building, your company can invest in a few rooms that can be used whenever a remote worker feels the need to come in. This saves you money on overhead expenses like utilities, cleaning, and maintenance.

Work-life balance – Balance has become a key issue in the post-pandemic world. People are placing greater emphasis on family and personal time. Companies that cannot accommodate that need must update their standards to remain competitive.

Increased worker productivity and engagement – With remote work capabilities comes a greater sense of responsibility to the company to perform well. In one Stanford study, remote work has shown to increase productivity by up to a full workday. This demonstrates that personalization, freedom, and flexibility are actually conducive to more efficient work.


Tools for Remote Teams:


Asana – A clean and colorful take on project management. Offers a variety of views, including calendar, kanban, to-do lists, and much more.

SlackImagine if the customizability and richness of email met the immediacy of instant messaging— then you get Slack. At this point, it’s become an industry standard for team communication.

Toggl – Tracking time is essential to get paid. Toggl’s interface matches the minimalist feel of both Asana and Slack.

Mavenlink– A more comprehensive and detailed version of Toggl and Asana combined. Allows timesheet reports, project creation, and data forecasting.

Zoom – 2020 turned Zoom into a household name, and for good reason. The video conferencing app is still the easiest way to invite people to talk without the need for a login.

Google Drive – Gone are the days of forgetting to save and losing all your work. Google Drive allows you to store your documents in the cloud as well as collaborate with others in real-time.



The Future of the Office Space Industry


2021 will be a year to watch to better understand the direction of the office space industry. Already, it seems companies are straying from traditional office environments and leaning towards more hybrid office models.

A big trend is an increasingly fragmented market. Where coworking and traditional offices may have dominated in the past, today the split is more evenly distributed, with hybrid offices, virtual offices, and even shared offices gaining market share.

Although office space costs will be difficult to predict, expect to see more flexible, customized plans based on the company’s needs. Long-term leases will undoubtedly be more cost-effective, but companies may opt to sign for short-term leases in case they decide to move elsewhere.

Satellite offices will continue to be used by major corporations and enterprises. The benefit of having a prestigious address combined with a meeting place for local professionals is a value that cannot be replaced.

Finally, there will be a greater emphasis on live-work-play communities or areas where offices are also in proximity to homes, apartments, and local recreational attractions (such as restaurants, bars, parks, and so on).


Learn more about the various office solutions that Novel Coworking provides here.

Returning to the Office? These New Ways of Working Can Help You and Your Team Stay Healthy—and Happy

Returning to the Office? These New Ways of Working Can Help You and Your Team Stay Healthy—and Happy

Are you ready to go back to working in an office building?

If the office to which you’ll be returning is in a Novel Coworking building, you’ll be glad to know that we’ve implemented some important changes during your absence.

We did this because your peace of mind is our top priority. We are committed to providing you not only an incredibly pleasant and inviting work environment but also a safe and healthy one where you can be your best in order to do your best.


Novel Coworking Makes It Easy to Stay Safe


The impetus for making these changes was, of course, the emergence of the coronavirus. Novel Coworking building managers responded to the pandemic by implementing a slew of measures to help slow its spread.

But since then, we’ve added some changes that are expressly designed to support you in the new, more health-conscious ways you’ll be working going forward.

For example, now when you enter your Novel Coworking building you’ll find yourself surrounded by sanitized surfaces. These surfaces include door handles, elevator buttons, tables, chairs, faucet handles, bathrooms, fridges, and workstations.

By sanitized, we mean that we follow the recommendations of the federal Centers for Disease Control and that we use cleaning products the Environmental Protection Agency identifies as particularly effective against germs and viruses.

You’ll also notice we increased our janitorial services. And supervisors in charge of the daily cleaning and disinfecting efforts must follow a checklist, then sign their name to it as proof the work was performed.

Moreover, our janitorial teams have standing instructions to maintain an extra supply of disinfecting wipes or germicidal sprays so that they can perform additional cleanings of high-touch areas throughout the day.

And you’ll see in the common areas of your Novel Coworking building various posters to encourage you and your own team to keep wipes, sprays, and sanitizers handy at all times. You never know when you’ll need to disinfect a desktop or a door handle without waiting for our cleaning squad to reach you.

The posters also remind everyone to frequently wash their hands in antibacterial soap. Speaking of lavatory hygiene, you’ll appreciate that the sinks now feature touchless faucets. Similarly, the toilets in every restroom are equipped with foot pedals—meaning your clean hands play no role in flushing.

You might be planning to split your time between working in the office and working from home. Or maybe that’s what you’ve got in mind for some or all of the people on your team. Novel Coworking has you covered for those possibilities as well by bringing to the fore our services that support part-time in-office needs.

Among these are our Access Pass and Conference Room-Only offerings. By utilizing these, you’ll find it much easier to set up and maintain a flex schedule for those who want to blend working from home with working at the office.


Social Distancing Supported


Staying 6 feet apart is an important health practice, one which we fully support.

Our social-distancing solutions include minimizing traffic around water coolers and in the kitchens. We’ve also installed sneeze guards and limited on-site live networking events to nine or fewer people.

When possible, we make vacant private offices available for short periods to any client coworking member who wants to avoid contact with others.

Further, you’ll discover upon your return that we reconfigured the central lounge area to offer more open space. This was made possible in part by moving all dedicated desks into private offices. As well, we rearranged the remaining furniture to create nooks and workspaces where you and your team can nestle yet still be distanced.

The Novel Coworking app is another way we’re facilitating social distancing. We encourage everyone to use it to book conference-room time.

Well-worth mentioning is Novel Coworking’s Private Offices and SmartSuite™ offerings. These spaces will further help you maintain proper social distancing. They come with their own private kitchens, meeting rooms, and other amenities so you can avoid the problem of people crowding into a limited amount of square footage.

Novel Coworking encourages the use of face coverings by all. We believe they are an effective means of keeping people healthy.

An option embraced by some of our tenants is that of temperature taking before allowing employees to go to their respective areas. The idea is that persons with even a slight fever could be harboring an illness. Temperatures can be taken and read in seconds with the aid of a handheld infrared thermometer. However, be advised that there may be legal issues surrounding this practice—compelling someone to submit to a temperature check as a condition of entry to the workplace could constitute an unauthorized medical examination administered without genuinely informed consent (especially if it’s performed by someone who’s not a licensed clinician).


Adapt and Evolve


2020 upended many widely held notions about the workplace—and about work in general.

You probably had quite a few of your own notions challenged during that time.

But this is 2021, and the correct response to the challenges of the recent past is to adapt.

For instance, the “new workspace” to which you’ll be returning is the perfect place to focus on wellness and self-care. Adapt by embracing the practice of taking slightly longer breaks from work and spending the extra time outside in the fresh air and sunshine. Even better, spend longer periods outdoors and bring your laptop, tablet, or other small devices with you so you can get work done while seated at a patio table or on a bench, or even on a grassy area.

If your workspace has window blinds, keep them open as much as possible throughout the day—a brighter room can have a very favorable effect on physical health by lifting one’s spirits and emotional sense of well-being.

Another way to support good physical and emotional health is to make sure you keep handy a supply of nutritious snacks. Also, if you like music playing in the background as you work, choose only tunes that are upbeat.

Remember too that exercise can elevate your mood, so possibly add a simple freestyle workout routine you can perform right at your desk without the need for fitness equipment. And don’t forget to exercise your brain—perhaps by turning happy hour into a continuing-education session.

At Novel Coworking, we continue to explore new and better ways to help you adapt. Our goal right from the start has been to equip you with excellent tools and processes so that you can make the most of the time you spend in the office.

If you’re interested in learning more about how Novel Coworking can help you make a smooth and successful transition back to office life, please click here or call us toll-free at (877) 301-6217.

10 Collaborative Calendar Apps To Supercharge Your Team

10 Collaborative Calendar Apps To Supercharge Your Team

Time is a resource just as important as money. With only a few hours in the day dedicated to work, how you spend them can impact your overall bottom line.

Business owners and entrepreneurs should strive to find new ways of saving and managing time. A great starting point is finding a robust collaborative calendar app that encourages communication and teamwork.


When to Use a Collaborative Calendar

Collaborative calendars are particularly useful for certain projects and processes. For example, distributed teams or remote teams may have individuals working from home, or at the office, or in a different timezone altogether. Use a collaborative calendar to schedule important meetings with clients or team members, so everyone knows when it starts and can block off their calendar accordingly. It can also be used to set deadlines for certain deliverables, ensuring a sense of accountability for all parties involved. Collaborative calendars can also be utilized to estimate a project timeline and an individual’s workload, making it easier to manage and delegate accordingly. Finally, a collaborative calendar can come in handy when celebrating a team member’s birthday/work anniversary, or for scheduling happy hours and fun events.


Why You Should Use a Collaborative Calendar

Better time management – To-do lists aren’t enough. If you really want to get things done, block out a time during your day to work on that project or task. Seeing your task as a part of your day will motivate you to better plan the rest of your week.

Reminders – Forget to return a call? Showed up late for a meeting? Planning a big event? Next time set an alert by scheduling it on your calendar. No matter what you’re doing, a quick notification on your phone will make sure you’re on time.

Clearer team communication – Stop worrying about time zones or conflicts- sending someone a calendar invite ensures they have the event in their calendar as well. Better yet, sharing a whole calendar with your team allows them to see your weekly agenda.

Want some tips for better managing your time? Check out our previous post on time management hacks.


Top Ten Collaborative Calendar Apps


1. Google Calendar

For many businesses, Google Calendar and the rest of the Google Suite has become the de-facto cloud setup. It’s easy to use, has a sleek interface, and best of all, is free. No wonder it’s become so popular. Inviting others to view your calendar through a unique URL can be convenient for setting deadlines for colleagues or checking the workplace productivity. Best of all, it’s already integrated into your Gmail account, so you can easily schedule meeting requests or calls. There are even a few schedule apps available that integrate with both Google Calendar and Gmail. Google Calendar might be the most popular free team calendar, and some might say even the best online calendar period.

Google Calendar

Available on Desktop, iOS, and Android.


2. Apple Calendar

If your organization uses Apple hardware, Apple Calendar will already be installed. Make no mistake, Apple Calendar is a sleek app. The interface is as simple as it gets, echoing the same visual design seen in other Apple apps. While Apple Calendar may lack flashy extensions and is limited to Apple and iOS devices, the company’s apps have always centered on simplicity and user experience. As some people say: “It just works.”

Apple Calendar

Preinstalled on iCloud, iOS and MacOS, also available on Windows.


3. Microsoft Outlook

Apple uses Calendar, and Microsoft relies on Outlook. Many businesses with desktops continue to use Outlook for its Microsoft Office integration- allowing them to manage emails, contacts, tasks, events in a unified setup. Features include team calendar sharing, side-by-side timetable comparisons, and sending meeting requests straight from email or the calendar. Unlike Apple Calendar, Outlook can be used on both Windows and Apple devices. Subscriptions start at $6.99/month or $69.99/year. You can also purchase Office 2016 completely at $149.99 (for the Home & Student version). Fortunately, the mobile versions are free.

Microsoft Outlook

Available on Windows, iOS, and Android.


4. UpTo

Looking for a more casual, social-oriented calendar set up? Try UpTo. Unlike other calendars on this list, UpTo resembles more of an enclosed social network for planning events- allowing you to view your colleague’s activities in real-time, with options for liking and commenting. The app also allows you to follow other calendars, like the schedule of your favorite TV show, or your favorite sports team. You can even set up groups for work, family, projects, and more. Best of all, UpTo integrates with your existing calendars, including Google Calendar, Apple Calendar, Microsoft Outlook, and Facebook Events. This free team calendar is arguably the strongest Google Calendar alternative, in terms of features available at no cost.

UpTo Calendar

Available as a Chrome extension, and on iOS and Android.


5. TeamUp

Maybe you just want people to view upcoming events or projects neatly without all the trouble of setting up accounts and permissions. That’s what TeamUp is for. Designed with a colorful interface, TeamUp works to simplify team collaboration. The calendar is so dynamic and customizable, it has been used by everyone from the education industry to technology, including Harvard University, NASA, HPE, Philips, Red Bull and more. Visit their website for a deeper look into real use cases.

TeamUp Calendar

Available on iOS, Android and as a web app.


6. Calendly

Do you get annoyed by the constant back and forth in scheduling a meeting? Then Calendly is the solution for you. All you have to do is set your availability preferences, share your Calendly link to your client or teammates, and then Calendly will present the correct time and dates for them to select from. It’s simple, smart, and has a ton of integrations with third-party calendars. The basic version is free, or you can choose the premium or pro plans for $8 and $12 respectively, with added features and capabilities.

Available as a web app.


7. Asana

Asana is more of a project management app with strong calendar features than it is a standalone calendar app. But its calendar remains intuitive, flexible, and easy to use. Calendar events can be grouped according to project or initiative, and can also be assigned to individual team members. The result is a colorful approach to tackling day-to-day tasks. Asana comes in three plans: Free, Premium ($10.99), and Business ($24.99), with options for enterprise as well.

Asana Calendar

Available on iOS, Android, and as a web app.


8. Toggl Plan

Toggl Plan has two main priorities: ease of use and project clarity. Used by major companies like Airbnb, Netflix, Stripe, Amazon, NYT and Spotify, Toggl Plan is designed for keeping track of what each member of the team is working on while providing flexibility to adjust dates and times on the fly. Toggl Plan has three tiers: Free (up to five users), Standard for $8 per user per month, and Business for $13.35 per user per month.

Available on iOS, Android, as a web app, and as a Google Chrome extension.


9. Fantastical

Dubbed the 2020 Mac App of the Year, Fantastical repeatedly appears among the best iOS and Mac App Store apps. That’s because it packs so much power and functionality, sports a streamlined, Apple-inspired design, and is cross-platform to boot. If you want something to replace the built-in calendar on MacBook or iPhone/iPad, you can’t do better than Fantastical. Try it for free then get it yearly ($3.33 per month) or monthly ($4.99 per month). The free version, while still useful as a calendar, lacks some of the collaboration and integrations in the paid versions.

Available on macOS, iOS, iPadOS and watchOS.


10. Woven

Woven is a great calendar option for teams, startups, or individuals that want to balance their work and personal life on their calendar. Woven has a couple of interesting features you won’t find elsewhere, like smart templates for easy event creation, built-in group polls, time management analytics, and supporting multiple calendar integrations. Its basic plan is free but won’t have the useful video conferencing integration features, smart templates, or multiple calendars syncing. Woven Premium comes with all the features for $15 per month (with an early access pricing option for $10 per month at the time of writing).


Available for iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, and as a web app.


As with most tools, a calendar is just a means to an end. You shouldn’t expect your organization to radically change overnight. Collaborative organizational values and practices have to be instilled over time, but having a calendar is a great place to start. When businesses can internally communicate more clearly about what they’re working on, and when client meetings have reminders before they start, operations become almost automatic.

Get the right tools to complement your online toolkit. Explore our virtual office offerings today.

Are digital tools getting in the way of your productivity and organization? Try an analog method with the bullet journal.

Top 10 Productivity Podcasts To Listen To In 2021

Top 10 Productivity Podcasts To Listen To In 2021

Self-improvement is an essential skill for any entrepreneur. How can anyone hope to get to where they want to be if they can’t take the simplest steps to better themselves?

But what if you’re constantly busy at work and home, with little time to attend inspiring seminars or read self-improvement books? The answer is simple: podcasts. They allow you to listen and learn on the move: during a workout, or on the way to work. But with thousands of podcasts to choose from, finding a starting place may be difficult.

Here’s a list of podcasts worth looking into.


1. The Tim Ferriss Show

Out of all the podcasts we looked into, Tim Ferriss’s stood out as the most popular. Bestselling author and “world’s best human guinea pig,” Ferriss is best known for The 4-Hour Workweek, now translated into over 40 languages. On his podcast, Ferriss invites and interviews someone from a niche background or industry, then uncovers the secrets to their success. In the past, he’s covered investment, technology, eastern philosophy, meditation, and much more. Ferriss’s disarming personality and genuine curiosity makes this podcast an entertaining listen.

Best episode: “Lessons Learned Traveling The World”


2. The Accidental Creative

Learn to develop everyday skills that can help you stay healthy, creative, and productive. The Accidental Creative Podcast is hosted by Todd Henry, author of Die Empty, Louder Than Words, and of course, The Accidental Creative. Each episode is less than half an hour, which is perfect for squeezing in a little wisdom in between a lunch break. Whether you’re a creative or a business professional, there’s something for everyone in this podcast.

Best episode: “Exactly What To Say” (with Phil M. Jones)


3. Back To Work

If you want something specifically focused on improving work habits, you’d be hard-pressed to find something better than Back to Work. This award-winning weekly podcast from Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin break down the most common topics in the workplace, from productivity to communication. Listening to Merlin and Dan is like listening to two friends talk casually, which makes for some great background listening.

Best episode: “Alexa, Light It Up!”


4. Productivityist

Mike Vardy has made quite the name for himself. Not only has his company, Productivityist, been mentioned by Lifehacker and Fast Company, but the podcast of the same name has quickly become a productivity podcast favorite. Vardy’s goal is to help listeners “define your day, funnel your focus, and make every moment matter” through actionable tips and useful tools. Not bad for a half hour weekly podcast.

Best episode: “Morning Routines with Benjamin Spall”


5. Cortex

A collaboration between Myke Hurley (host of Relay.fm) and CGP Grey (YouTuber, host of Hello Internet), Cortex explores the work processes and productivity hacks of two self-employed content creators. Listening to these two hosts talk about their work can be one of the most inspiring moments of your week, no different to learning from a mentor.

Best episode: “Cortex 1: I Don’t Really Like Work”


6. Beyond The To-Do List

Host Erik Fisher hit a home run in choosing a title for his podcast. Not only does each episode teach you how to get more done, but it also explores the main purpose of productivity- living a meaningful life between personal and work life. The podcast features interviews with real entrepreneurs and thought leaders, extracting the most important lessons of time-management, motivation, and organization. After a couple of episodes, you’ll be using some of his tactics right away.

Best episode: Sleep: Shawn Stevenson on Caffeine and Screen Curfews to get better Sleep 


7. Masters of Scale

An original podcast by Reid Hoffman (founder of LinkedIn), Masters of Scale explores how companies seemingly grow from nothing into major, worldwide phenomenons. Hoffman starts each episode with a theory about scaling businesses and then tests the idea by interviewing the leading figures and influencers today.

Best episode: Special Episode: Remote Teams with Matt Mullenweg, Co-Founder and CEO of Automattic


8. Business Wars

Ever wondered about the biggest battles in the business industry? Whether its Netflix v. HBO or Pizza Hut vs. Dominos, Business Wars covers the shocking dark side of the biggest corporate rivalries in history. You’ll learn about how some brands come to be cultural landmarks, how others get forgotten by history and the countless Machiavellan plays made by leaders and entrepreneurs.

Best episode: Amazon vs Walmart – The Big Bang Theory of E-Commerce


9. How I Built This with Guy Raz

Journalist and NPR host Guy Raz has developed a reputation as one of the most popular podcasters ever, and with his podcast, How I Built This, it’s not hard to see why. Learn about the stories about early beginnings and touch decisions made by the world’s most famous companies, including Lyft, Bumble, Khan Academy, Airbnb, and many more.

Best episode: Wikipedia: Jimmy Wales


10. The Mind Your Business Podcast

Entrepreneurs understand the secret to success lies with one’s mindset. James Wedmore, an online entrepreneur, hosts a podcast specifically designed around the entrepreneur’s mindset, and how it can have a greater impact than any strategy. Each episode is only 20-45 minutes long, but you’ll walk away with lessons that stay with you long after they’re done.

Best episode: The Way To Grow Is To ____


The Journey of Productivity

One of the best ways to improve yourself is to learn from the experts- the individuals who faced the same struggles and setbacks and converted their failure into wisdom. Listening to actionable advice helps us avoid the same pitfalls.

These are just a few suggestions out of dozens other productivity podcasts. There’s simply far too many out there to put into a single list. The same is true for blogs. Here are 7 great blogs to get started.

But it’s not enough to listen to podcasts, you have to apply the lessons each day: like managing your time, getting an early start, or finding a place to focus and work. Healthy habits are formed with time and discipline.

To get more tips and resources on maximizing productivity, follow Novel Coworking’s Blog today.

Importance of an Office Layout

Importance of an Office Layout

You may not think about it during the day, but your office layout can make a huge impact on your mindset and your work. With a few adjustments to your office furniture, you can design a more productive and pleasurable work experience.


What’s an office layout?

This seems like an obvious answer: it’s how your office equipment and furniture are laid out within a certain space. However, we don’t want to just arrange these items based on space- office furniture and equipment should be arranged to maximize productivity, creativity, and collaboration.

It’s that second part that many businesses fail to grasp. Your office environment should encourage you to get more work done and communicate with the rest of your team effectively- sometimes, these objectives aren’t easy to accomplish when you have a lot of equipment, a lot of workers, or not enough office space (or all three).


Importance of an Office Layout


A productive environment breeds a productive mindset

Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to get work done in your living room, or even in a personal office? Your workplace is a reflection of your headspace. If it’s cramped, old, or cluttered, it’ll be a lot harder to hold productive calls or focus on your current project. A flexible, spacious layout can inspire more focused concentration.


Open spaces can foster creative collaboration

Sharing an office with someone else can not only be more cost-effective (particularly for startups and entrepreneurs) but it can improve communication and encourage the important conversations that need to happen: whether that concerns a potential bottleneck, a troublesome team member, or an opportunity to innovate. Managers will also notice a change in employee morale, as team members will feel more legitimacy in their work when they have a dedicated workspace.


An office can help protect and safeguard your team

Innovations such as webcam security, keycard access, and biometrics offer a unique security advantage compared to a traditional workspace. Teams that need not worry about the safety of their possessions or the well-being of their colleagues can enjoy a sense of comfort and peace of mind. Remember to always inquire about emergency planning and procedures no matter which office you choose.


What are the best types of office layout?

Experiment with different design ideas until you find one that best complements your workflow. Try using one of these layouts:


Cellular/Cubicle Office

Most commonly found in older office buildings, the cellular or cubicle office arranges employees and desks by rows and columns, often with low walls to divide people and (supposedly) retain their concentration. While these layouts still exist, they are gradually being phased out in favor of more open layouts.


Open Office Layout

In contrast, an open layout removes doors and walls as barriers to communication and collaboration. Multiple workers may share a single table, and the tables may be scattered throughout the space. These layouts have become more popular with startups as well as large tech firms as it encourages more immediate communication.

Read our previous article on how open offices can actually enhance your productivity.


Coworking Layout

Directly inspired by an open office layout, a coworking layout also eliminates walls or boundaries, but is much larger and often shared among multiple companies. The coworking space may feature couches, shared desks, private or dedicated desks, or high counters. Coworking has the added benefit of encouraging cross-company communication and networking.


Functional Layout

Some businesses may have unique services or products they work on and may decide to arrange their offices around the most frequently used equipment and machinery. For example, a startup that focuses on recording podcasts may strip their space and lay their computers, chairs, and other equipment around the recording microphone.


Match your company culture with your office layout

Ultimately, no one can tell you how to arrange your team, furniture, and equipment- you have to decide what’s best for your business. Some companies have a greater need for private spaces while others desire more meeting spaces.

One way to design your office layout is by basing it on your team’s needs and culture. Ask yourself these questions:

    • What does my business do?
    • What are the most common tasks each day?
    • What devices, equipment, or furniture does my team require to accomplish their work?
    • Open layout or cellular layout?
    • Collaboration or privacy?
    • Creativity or efficiency?

At the end of the day, these questions are about your business’s brand and culture. Ask yourself whether your space accurately and honestly reflects the team’s personality.

For some more advice, check out our previous post on how to create an engaging workplace, and read our office layout do’s and don’ts.


The Impact of an Office Layout on Productivity

Cubicles are a thing of the past. According to BizJournal, 81% of office owners and managers say office space is “very important” when it comes to hiring top talent, and 78% say they’re “increasingly being asked for open-office environments” and “more collaborative workspaces.”

Where and how your team works greatly affects the end product of their labors. When you make it easier and more enjoyable for your team to work, you can look forward to a stronger, more enhanced version of your brand.


Office Layouts & Social Distancing

2020 saw a major shift in the workplace due to the coronavirus. Offices around the world have updated their layouts and designs to encourage greater social distancing and overall public safety. This includes more spaced out furniture, sneeze guards, and even limitations on how many people can be in a space at a given time. Remember to practice safe distancing and protocols to prevent the spread of viruses in the workplace, regardless of where you work. Be sure to visit Novel Coworking’s COVID-19 Protection Plan for more information and guidance.

Tips for Renting Office Space in Chicago

Tips for Renting Office Space in Chicago

You’ve established your company and have been working from home. It’s been a few months and things are starting to look great! You’ve seen some sales and a couple of repeat customers. It’s time to take your brand to the next level.

Sure, working from home is awesome. You don’t have to worry about traffic and you minimize expenses while spending time with your family and pets during lunch break.

But working from home can have its disadvantages too. Having your kids and pets around can also be a distraction. The temptation to procrastinate is psychologically higher when we are at home. This could cause you to miss out on goals for the quarter, leading to difficulties along the way.

Staying at home can also be quite limiting. Both for you and your business. You see, in order to grow your business, you’re going to need to expand your operations. This means expanding your team, who will then need space to function and collaborate. Even the hippest and fresh disruptors in every industry have an office where they meet to focus on and achieve company goals.


The benefits of renting Office Space in Chicago

As an entrepreneur, renting out or leasing an office should be seen as an investment towards your business. You are investing in a space to cultivate ideas and promote collaboration amongst your team.

In recent years, corporate businesses have begun to shift towards moving their operations to a coworking set up. This is where several employees from different companies come and share an office space. Doing so allows for a reduced cost in amenities, utilities, and office equipment.

An effective strategy, especially at the beginning, is to minimize budget while maximizing productivity. A common path for startups in recent years is to take advantage of the new trend found in coworking spaces. This type of office space is ideal for young companies as a catalyst in accelerating their growth. Some major corporations have chosen coworking spaces over leased offices, as well. In September 2016, HSBC decided to move 300 of its employees into a coworking space. Microsoft and IBM have also taken initiatives in moving their employees to a coworking space.

Perhaps one of the biggest draws, if not the biggest, of a coworking space is the inherent opportunity for networking. Not only have you invested in a flexible space to develop your ideas and strategies, but you have several potential business partners to choose from. It’s not rare to share a table with a different company, in a different industry, looking to connect. This allows for an avenue for businesses to grow and evolve. Collaboration is key to evolving your business.

For example, let’s say you’re an online brand looking to expand your reach. In your space, you might find someone working with a logistics company, a useful partner to provide your customers with excellent last-mile delivery. A digital marketer might teach you a few tricks to increase conversion or a web designer might show you how to revamp your website. Soon, you’ll be taking your brand to new heights.

The idea is all about keeping costs down while gaining an avenue to boost growth, sales, and production. Moving certain parts of your organization to a coworking space that will directly benefit from what they can offer is a good solution.

An example of this is your marketing team. Collaboration and networking are key in marketing. A coworking space makes their jobs a lot easier by having them work in the vicinity of potential sponsors or partners. However, your product team might need their own private office that will allow them creative freedom without having to worry about privacy and spilling trade secrets.


Best areas to have an office in Chicago


River North

This district is known for its artistic and creative identity. With a focus on design and fashion, River North attracts not only creatives but is also home to numerous tech companies. Surrounded by galleries, ad agencies, designers, and writers, inspiration is just around the corner.

This district is also quite close to some of the residential areas in the greater Chicagoland area. Being close to downtown but just far enough to avoid the busy streets of the district, River North is the best of both worlds in terms of a relaxed and productive community.


The Loop

Considered to be the central business district, The Loop is where major corporations reside. This is also where the Chicago Mercantile Exchange is found. Naturally, you’ll see busy people in suits and corporate outfits walking and rushing to their offices.

A great place to set up your headquarters for medium to large organizations, here you can find the hallmarks of an active business district. Mixing corporate aesthetics with wonderful public art, you’ll find an abundance of offices and coworking spaces to choose from to fit your style and work ethic.


West Loop

With a more high-end vibe, West Loop is considered to be the city’s main shopping district. Finance and insurance are prominent industries in the district along with some of the biggest tech companies in the world like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google.

The West Loop district is an ideal location for small teams starting out. There are cost-effective workspaces found here that provide a modern feel with high-end amenities to discover. And due to the high volume of dining options, taking clients out to lunch is easy and convenient.



Wacker Drive runs along the side of The Loop and shares it’s bustling central business district vibe. A convenient location for an office, you’ll be able to avoid the crowds during rush hour while enjoying easy access to restaurants, stores, and other conveniences.


Chicago Office Space Market Statistics

Several industries and sectors have shown a trend in expansion leading to strong competition for space in the city.

The question is what is more viable for your business. Will you and your brand benefit from having an office for yourself? Or would it be cost-effective to rent out an office that you share with other companies?

What are the latest Chicago office space rental rates? As of 2020, on average, it’s about $50 per square foot to rent an office space. A commercial 300 square foot office would cost you around $15,000 per month for the lease. Quite expensive. And that’s just space. You still need to shoulder the costs of utilities, such as electricity and water.

However, coworking spaces boast substantially lower costs. For as low as $300, you could secure a spot at some of the best coworking spaces in town. Not only do you not have to worry about equipment and utilities but you also get a good pipeline of business partners and clients to connect and network with.


How to find the ideal office space

Searching for the ideal office space for you and your company is like looking for your next apartment. It’s exciting and motivating. You can’t wait to settle down and get those creative juices flowing.

Things to consider are your needs and budget. What kind of office space are you looking for? Are you looking for a private office where you have full control of its set up? Or a shared workspace where you have a healthy network of partners looking to collaborate.

You also have to consider maintenance. Owning an office, as opposed to renting or sharing a workspace, obligates you to consider maintenance as part of your budget. Remember, an office is an investment on your part. What would be good for your brand and team right now?

Speaking of your team, you also have to consider their individual spaces. Are you going to provide a dedicated desk for each person on your team? Each desk (and chair!) comes with its own costs as well. You’ll have to keep in mind the internet connection and cable set up, along with amenities and utilities to help you focus on what’s important.

A core requirement for every office is access to a meeting room. This is important because the meeting room is where ideas and strategies are born. Each and every step the company makes is decided there. So consider the features of the meeting room as well. What would you need? Obviously, a quiet space where the arguments and discussions held inside are kept inside. A projector for convenience, as well as a whiteboard for taking down ideas during your brainstorming sessions.